Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010
A History of the World - South East Wales

Waterlilies by Monet - courtesy of the National Museum of Wales
How is Waterlilies by Monet linked to the industrial history of Wales?

Choosing objects to represent south east Wales in A History of the World might seem easy - this area was crucial to the industrial revolution and was of world importance in coal, iron and steel.

But how do you choose one object to represent the entire coal industry, for example?

"We went for two in the end," says Christina Macaulay, executive producer for BBC Wales.

"We chose an amputation kit (as seen on the south west Wales list) ... it shows the shows the sacrifice that was made for coal. So many hundreds of people were killed or injured in the pits.

"And then there's Monet's wonderful Waterlilies painting," she adds.

"The connection with coal might not be obvious but it is part of the world class Davies Sisters collection at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff.

"The sisters' money came from their grandfather David Davies who made his fortune through developing Barry Docks and the coalfields of South Wales. So really it was the miners that paid for the art."

Iron is represented by a chain link from Pontypridd. The Brown Lenox works there once supplied all the Royal Navy's anchor chains.

Roman gemstones from Caerleon
This collection of gemstones is just one example of Caerleon's Roman heritage

But it's not all about the industrial revolution - south east Wales' links with the rest of the world go back a long way.

"I really like the Roman gemstones from Caerleon. They fell out of people's rings in the bathhouse over hundreds of year and were found in the drains," says Christina.

"They are made from all sorts of stones from Cyrpus, Egypt, India and Sri Lanka, showing that global trade is nothing new."

The most modern object selected for south east Wales is a Muslim prayer compass. Cardiff had one of the earliest Muslim communities in Britain with strong links to Somalia, the Yemen and Bangladesh.

"And then there's Superted. A furry bear might seem a surprising choice but Superted's first language was Welsh," says Christina.

Superted - courtesy of the National Museum of Wales
Even Superted has a place in history

"When S4C was set up in 1982 it began producing animation programmes which were soon being translated into other languages and sold all over the world."

The BBC team contacted museums and curators across Wales to come up with an initial 50 objects from Wales, including 10 from south east Wales.

But that's just a start. Museums will be adding more objects. And maybe you have something to add too?

If you have an object that helps to tell the story of south east Wales, you can add its details to the A History the World website and be part of building the digital museum.

We are looking for objects that tell us about our influence on the world and the world's influence on us.


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